Friday, 02 March 2012 02:30
Antigua & Barbuda lost 4-0 to Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday in a friendly international as the Benna Boys preparation for their CONCACAF semi-final round FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying series starting in June got off to a bad start.
Striker Devorn Jorsling, who had a first-half penalty saved, scored a hat-trick, and Willis Plaza scored the fourth after a 0-0 half-time score-line at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in Antigua.
After a somewhat even first-half, closely shaded by the visitors, who saw Jorsling’s 32-minute weak penalty well-saved by Molvin James, the Soca Warriors took advantage on four of their six chances in the second period to turn out comfortable winners.
The home side, fielding four of their five English-based professionals from the start, suffered a setback after 15 minutes when the former Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur youth player Anton Blackwood pulled a hamstring trying a retrieve a ball, and was replaced by local boy Karanja Mack at left-back, a position coach Tom Curtis has been trying to fill for the past year.
However, they missed the authoritative influence of Mark Joseph in defence and Reading’s midfield dynamo Mikele Leigertwood, both of whom who were key in the historic 1-0 win over Haiti last October which propelled the Antiguans to the long-shot opportunity of dreaming on the "Road to Rio".
With right-back Marvin McCoy; Keiran Murtagh – playing out-of-position as midfield schemer apparently as cover for Leigertwood and Nottingham Forest’s Dexter Blackstock, the overseas quarter seemed to have blended with the local seven in the first 45 minutes.
Blackstock had an early sight at goal, but he skewed his left-footed attempt wide after four minutes in a rear Antiguan attack in the first-half in which Trinidad’s Richard Roy featured prominently. However, Roy missed two gilt-edge chances as he shot over from close range and after dispossessing Antiguan captain George Dublin fired high into the side-netting.
Any early optimism the Benna Boys had evaporated after the break, especially when Murtagh was pushed further forward following the 56-minute withdrawal of Blackstock whose replacement Justin Cochrane, once on the books of Spurs, appeared lacking in match fitness and the desire to track back to help out the defence.
From there, the Soca Warriors overran the Antiguan middle, and Jorsling, who netted the lone goal from the penalty spot when both sides last meet in a friendly at the Antigua Recreation Ground in September 2010, took advantage of his hosts’ generosity.
Murtagh, partnered by Quinton Griffith and Lawson Robinson, had controlled the Benna Boys' engine room with good, close ball control and distribution, but after he was sent forward to assist Peter Byers and Stephan Smith in the hunt for a goal, the chances began to open up for the Trinidadians.
Jorsling, who shot too close to James from 12 yards after he delayed his spot-kick attempt following Griffith's needless foul on Kevon Carter as he was heading away from goal, made amends with a clinical finish a minute after Cochrane’s arrival.
The left-footed striker accepted a through-ball on the edge of the area before rolling his marker, Dave Carr, to strike powerful into the roof of the net.
Substitute Jamal Jack should have made it 2-0 after 68 minutes, but his powerful header from a corner cannoned off the bar and back into play.
But it was a let-off and warning that the Antiguans failed to heed, because two minutes later, Jorsling was back to send the Trinidadian further in the ascendancy when he re-directed a pass into the opposite corner, beating the exposed James, who watched in bewilderment as the ball nestled in the goal.
More was to come from the trusty left-boot of the well-built attacker as he set himself from a cross from Keon Boucher, who twisted pass Mack before teeing up Jorsling to top home from close range and send Trinidad 3-0 ahead on 78 minutes.
With Curtis withdrawing all his English-based players as they prepared to take an early flight back home just after the game, the locally-based players found themselves on the receiving end of several raids by the visitors.
On one such rampage, another sub, Plaza, pounced on a stray pass and bolted towards the goal to shoot home with nine minutes to go.
The Antiguans tried to rally in the remaining minutes to give their suffering fans – who had admirably turned out in their thousands for the earlier-than-usual kick-off to accommodate the English players catching their flight – but they were unable to breakdown a well-marhsalled Trinidad defence who nullified an increasing frustrated Byers, who spent more time gesturing with team-mates and opponents than finding himself in goal-scoring positions.
With the Americans enjoying a surprise 1-0 away win over former World Cup champions Italy; Jamaica defeating 2010 finalists New Zealand 3-2 on the road and Guatemala overcoming Guyana 2-0 in Georgetown, the Antiguans would be well aware that they have much work to do as they get ready to face their semi-final group opponents starting June 8 against the Yankees at the Raymond T James stadium in Tampa, followed by a visit from the Reggae Boy four day later at the SVRS.
The local-based players head to Basseterre on Saturday at the invitation of St Kitts for another warm-up before they are transposed into the Barracudas ahead of the Untied Soccer League campaign from April.
Antigua & Barbuda: Molvin James-Marvin McCoy (Akeem Thomas), Dave Carr, George Dublin, Anton Blackwood (Karanja Mack)-Keiran Murtagh (Kerry Skepple), Lawson Robinson (Gayson Gregory), Quinton Griffith-Stephan Smith (Ranja Christian), Dexter Blackstock (Justin Cochrane), Peter Byers
Coach: Tom Curtis
Trinidad & Tobago: Marvin Phillip-Clyde Leon, Elton John, Rodell Elcock, Guerra Atualla-Kevon Carter, Kevon Neaves, Danell Cyrus, Seon Power (Jamal Jack)- Devron Jorsling, Roy Richards.
Coach: Hudson Charles